Tips on what to write
- Tell them you live in their constituency and include your address. Many MPs won’t respond to letters from people who aren’t their constituents.
- Say you are writing to request a meeting to discuss the law on assisted dying.
- Be clear about what we’re campaigning for. An assisted dying law would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to request life-ending medication from a doctor, which the patient would self-administer at a time they chose.
- Explain why assisted dying matters so much to you. If you are living with a terminal illness, or someone close to you wanted the choice of an assisted death, do share this, if you feel comfortable.
- Include some facts, stories and examples to support your argument. We’ve included some key points below – choose the ones you feel are most persuasive.
- Mention Dignity in Dying and link to more information or personal stories on our website.
- Tell them you look forward to receiving their reply and thank them for reading your message.
Facts, statistics and personal stories
Below are some points for you to use when writing to your MP. Don’t feel you need to include all of these points – just choose the ones that you feel are most persuasive.
What we’re talking about:
- An assisted dying law would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to request life-ending medication from a doctor, which the patient would self-administer at a time of their own choosing.
- Above all, subject to strict upfront safeguards as assessed by two doctors, it will give dying adults peace of mind that the choice of assisted dying is available if their suffering becomes too great for them in their final months of life.
- Assisted dying legislation would result in fewer dying adults – and their families – facing unnecessary suffering at the end of their lives, instead giving them choice and control.
- Support for assisted dying is higher than ever before – 84% of the British public agree it’s time to change the law (Populus poll, 2019)
Why the current law is broken and doesn’t protect people:
- Every 8 days someone from the UK travels to Dignitas for help to die, and prosecutors are turning a blind eye.
- For Geoff Whaley and his wife Ann, their plans for Geoff (who had terminal motor neurone disease) to die at Dignitas were nearly thwarted after an anonymous tip off led to an investigation by the police and social services. Geoff spoke to Parliament a few days before his death in February 2019 and wrote a heartfelt letter to all MP’s calling for law change. Ann Whaley and their daughter Alix are continuing his fight and have called for a meeting with Justice Secretary, David Gauke.
- Many more dying people cannot afford the huge financial (average £10,000) and emotional costs to travel abroad and are taking their own lives in the UK out of desperation – often in very distressing circumstances.
- Recent YouGov polling shows that two-thirds of Britons would consider helping a loved one (who had a terminal illness and who’d expressed a wish to have an assisted death) to travel to Switzerland for an assisted death.
- The current law on assisted suicide doesn’t protect vulnerable people, as cases are only investigated after someone has died.
- The current law prohibits dying people discussing their end-of-life wishes with their doctors, meaning professionals have little awareness if someone is going to end their life at home or abroad, or indeed if they are vulnerable.
- For more on this, see the True Cost Report.
About Noel Conway’s legal challenge:
Noel Conway is a 69-year-old man from Shropshire with incurable terminal motor neurone disease who challenged the law on assisted dying. He believes the current law denies him the right to a dignified death on his own terms. His case was heard by both the High Court (2017) and the Court of Appeal (2018), where judges stated that they did have the authority to make a decision on this case, however in this case both courts ruled against Conway. In December 2018 the Supreme Court stated that they would not grant Mr Conway a full hearing, while acknowledging the case raised an issue of “transcendent public importance.”
How assisted dying laws work well in the USA:
- In 20 years in Oregon, evidence shows no sign of the law widening, (so called ‘slippery slope’).
- End of life care has improved in Oregon as a result.
- There have been no signs of people abusing the law in 20 years – and the number of deaths has stayed at a steady 0.3% of all deaths – Oregon Report 2016
- Many more dying people take comfort knowing the option is there, even if they don’t use it.
- Over 100 million people around the world have access to assisted dying legislation; in eight states in America, all of Canada and the state of Victoria, Australia.
How assisted dying relates to palliative care and the medical profession:
- Assisted dying is not an alternative to palliative care, but an option within good end of life care that some will choose to take.
- In the UK seventeen people a day will suffer as they die despite the very best care.
- For a small minority, palliative cannot relieve all pain and suffering at the end of life. For more on this, see The Inescapable Truth
- Evidence from Oregon shows that palliative care improved when assisted dying legislation was introduced.
- The Royal College of Physicians recently dropped their opposition to assisted dying in favour of a neutral position, after surveying their members in early 2019. They will now join the Royal College of Nursing, and medical associations around the world which have taken a balanced and compassionate stance on this issue.
- The Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association have promised to survey their members on what position the organisations should take on assisted dying towards the end of 2019/start of 2020.